Easy Peasy, Two Ingredient Jam Tart

December 21, 2017 in Food by Beth Woolsey

Alright, folks. It’s 5 days ‘til Christmas, and I don’t know about you, but I still have 85,000 things to do and the energy for, like, 6 of them. It’s OK, though. I am not panicking, and do you know why? Because I intend to half-ass All the Things from here on out. I will give partial effort that LOOKS like full effort. I will do what delights me and spreads magic, and I will let go of all the things that do not qualify.

My house is partially decorated, and that’s AWESOME. Let’s hear it for PARTIALLY! We put up our lights six weeks ago and left a string dangling because we intended to put up more. Half of those have burnt out now, and the other half are dimming and on the way toward death. In other words, you can tell by looking at the outside of our house that WE TRIED, DAMMIT, and that is good enough for me, friends. Good enough for me.

My tree is up and lit, there are stockings hung by the chimney without care because I CANNOT CARE ABOUT EVERYTHING, and there’s still a giant garland in a heap in a corner of the family room — one we got out of its box on November 1st — that hasn’t made it to the mantel. You know what we’re going to say about that? THAT I AM SO GOOD AT DECORATING, I’M EVEN MAKING SURE THE CORNERS HAVE GARLANDS. I hereby declare myself the Queen of Half-Assery, and I am content.

So. In that spirit, I offer you this easy, peasy, two ingredient jam tart that looks Very Fancy, tastes delicious, but is still completely and utterly a half-assed effort. It is, in other words, one of my favorite desserts of all time.

Easy Peasy, Two Ingredient Jam Tart

Ingredients:
1. Jam
2. Frozen Pie Dough

I prefer to use Marie Calendar’s pie dough because they bake up flakey and perfect like my mom’s pie crust, but with, like, ZERO work. Any pre-made pie dough will work, though.

Directions:

1. Thaw pie dough. Since Ms. Calendar puts hers in a disposable tin, I pop them out of the tin still frozen and let them thaw so I can mush them into my own pie plate, thus making this dessert look fully homemade and procuring credit I don’t deserve. WIN/WIN.

2. When soft, mush it into your own pie plate, cutting off the top edge. (This is a thin tart, so you don’t need the excess dough, plus you’ll use it in a minute to be Extra Fancy.)

3. Add 1 cup of jam, any flavor and spread it into the crust. My favorite is a berry mix or lemon curd. OMG, SO GOOD.

4. Roll the remaining dough into a ball, roll out to 1/8” (3mm), and, using whatever cookie cutter you decide is fanciest, cut a few shapes to decorate the top of the tart.

5. Optional, depending on how fancy you want to be: brush crust with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

6. Bake at 425F (220C) for 10 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 375 and bake 15-20 more minutes. Remove from the oven when the crust is browned and the jam is bubbling. Let cool, then cut and serve.

Serves 4. Since the Marie Calendar’s pie crusts come in sets of 2, I make at least 2 at a time.

ALTERNATIVELY — I just made these last night, and I bypassed steps 2 and 4. EVEN EASIER. I rolled the dough into a circle approximately 1/8” (3mm) thick, put it on a greased baking sheet, put the jam in the middle, spread it to within 2-3” (50-75mm) of the edges, then folded the dough edges over, galette style, to make a rustic tart, instead. It was SUPER easy and worked beautifully. Of course, I only remembered to take a picture before I baked it — HELLO, HALF-ASSERY — but this will still give you a good idea of what I’m talking about:

(Psst…She was REALLY pretty with egg wash and sugar, all bubbly and brown from the oven. You’ll just have to imagine with me.)

In conclusion, friends, half-assery for the win! And Merry Christmas to all. Unless Christmas isn’t your jam, in which case I still recommend jam tart. And half-assery. 

X’s and O’s,

 

 

 

P.S. You can find all the Easy Peasy recipes — including my other holiday favorite, Two Ingredient Fudge — by clicking here. Enjoy!

Happy Independence… From the Christians

July 4, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I feel like it’s safe to say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who would never, ever, EVER laugh at people who experience developmental delay — you know, the conscientious, compassionate, kind type of person — and Terrible People like me.

It’s just that my two kiddos with disability have been entrenched in an argument that’s lasted days. They’ve yelled at each other. They’ve called each other names in ragey voices. They’ve rolled their eyes. They’ve tried to bait the rest of us into taking sides. And still it’s not settled why we’re celebrating Independence Day on July 4th.

Aden insists we’re celebrating independence from the Christians. Ian says we’re celebrating independence from the Nazis.

For a while, they were blaming the Jews, but they believed me when I said that wasn’t it. Whew! On the other hand, my contention that we’re celebrating independence from the British was met with unified derision. It was ridiculous when I suggested we’d need to be independent from the Land of Crumpets and Tea. I mean, what could we possibly be fighting against the British for? Their use of “chips” instead of “fries?” Their corner on the digestives market? No. Mom clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. At least they agree on something.

Ian: It is the Nazis, Aden.

Aden: IT’S THE CHRISTIANS.

Ian: Nazis.

Aden: CHRISTIANS.

Ian: Evwebody knows Nazis are bad guys, Aden. Evwebody.

Aden: It’s the CHRISTIANS. … Wait. Mom, are we the Christians?

Me: I am, Aden. You get to pick.

Aden: Oh. KILL THE NAZIS then. KILL THEM DEAD. KILL, KILL, KILL.

Ian: Ha! I told you! It’s NAZIS. HAhahahaha! I am wight and you wong! Ha, Aden. HA!

Aden: Wait. No. KILL THE CHRISTIANS. Except Mom. KILL ALL THE CHRISTIANS EXCEPT MOM. Unless I’m a Christian. Then we KILL ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE.

In conclusion, even though I keep laughing at them, I feel like my kids have a general bloodthirsty grasp on this whole Independence Day thing and also theological schisms in general… Christians who flee religious persecution from Other Christians and arrive in a new land to persecute and massacre others.

I feel like we’re really slow learners, guys.

Also, I made blueberry cake to celebrate. And I’m going to go have a beer.

Wishing you a Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

With love,

 

The Importance and Meaning of Rainbows: An Essay by an 8-Year-Old Boy

June 27, 2015 in Beth, But Seriously, Family by Beth Woolsey

Dear Friends,

I came home from work yesterday to this.

IMG_4442

My dog dyed rainbow.

Given the SCOTUS ruling yesterday that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, I thought my kids might be celebrating. You know, being timely! And up to date on current events! I don’t know how I thought they would’ve picked up that news from playing Minecraft all day, but a mama can hope her babies pay attention to Supreme Court decisions while she’s at work, can’t she? Then it occurred to me that the last time the kids dyed the dog, it was to paint flames down his sides, and I didn’t assume they were celebrating arson. So I asked them why they did it. Why did they paint the dog to look like a rainbow? Other than the obvious, of course; that they had a) paint and b) a dog. 

So we sat outside late at night as the heat faded and so did the sun, and we talked about rainbows. Rainbows and color. Rainbows and God. Rainbows and people. Rainbows and life and how we approach each other with compassion and kindness. And this morning, Cai, one of our 8-year-olds, sat down to write you this essay. Cai’s last essay here was co-written with his twin brother. It was about Penis Tendons. Because I told them, if they wanted to guest post on this blog, they must choose an important topic, spell words correctly, pay attention to sentence craft and structure, have a POINT and a conclusion, and it had to be about be about something that will improve the lives of others. So, Penis Tendons, obviously. Since then, they’ve tossed around the idea of guest posting again, but the writing muse eluded them. Until now. 

And so, because Cai asked, and because Cai has important and wise things to say, I give you Cai’s Essay on The Importance and Meaning of Rainbows. 

With love,

Signature

.

.

.

The Importance and Meaning of Rainbows
by Cai Woolsey, age 8

Yesterday my brother Cael and me dyed Chip’s hair rainbow. Chip is our dog. He is friendly and nice but not always. He is white with curly hair. He is 9 years old and he barks for five minutes at a stranger but after that he cools down.

Our friend Kasey helped dye Chip’s ears and the top of his head red, and we used her hair dye.

We painted the dog because I thought it would be a good surprise on my parents, and I thought it would be a good look on Chip. We think it is.

Other kids should and shouldn’t dye their dogs. You shouldn’t dye your dog because if your dog doesn’t have white hair it wouldn’t look so good, but if your dog does have white hair it would look great, so then you should.

Let’s talk about the importance of rainbows. I dyed my dog rainbow because I like rainbows. They are full of beautiful colors that are all different.

In the Bible, the rainbow symbolizes new life. Do you remember the story of Noah’s Ark? The story of Noah’s Ark is about Noah and his family building a huge wooden boat, and God tells Noah to gather two of each animal and put it in the boat. His family gets on the boat with him and there is a huge flood that floods the whole earth. After the flood there is a rainbow and the rainbow is a symbol of new life and promise that God would never flood the earth again.

In America, rainbows symbolize that a boy and a boy can get married and a girl and a girl can get married if they want to. I think that it’s a good idea because if a girl and a girl or a boy and a boy are in love that they should be allowed to get married.

Rainbows are the most cool in science because you get to see that light is made up of the colors of the rainbow. All of the colors are very different and beautiful, and the rainbow is the most beautiful of all because it is all the colors together. It is just like God shining through us. We are all different and beautiful, and we’re even more beautiful all together.

I think rainbows remind us of the Fruit of the Spirit which is in the Bible, too. Those are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Some people say rainbows are a girl thing. They are wrong because PEOPLE CAN LIKE ANYTHING NO MATTER WHAT.

This story is important because I hope that people will think differently about rainbows. Rainbows are for all people. They are about love and light and God and new life. You should never misjudge a rainbow; it’s like never judge a book by its cover. What you find inside is most important.

……….

IMG_4441

Cai Woolsey is 8 years old.

When he grows up, he wants to be a doctor because he likes being around people, talking to them, and helping them.

Cai likes to type essays while sporting pink and blue nail polish and wearing his shirt backwards on purpose. At age 6, he coined the phrase, “All the colors are for all the people,” a slogan he lives by today. 

This Is for All the Parents Who Aren’t Ready for Easter, Either

April 3, 2015 in Beth, But Seriously, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

It’s Good Friday which, yes, is the day Jesus died on the cross, but that’s not important right now**, because Good Friday is ALSO is the day well-intentioned mamas like me die a little inside when we realize we have done nothing — nothing — to prepare for Sunday’s Easter celebration.

No eggs.

No candy.

ID-100194758No dresses.

No suits.

No bonnets.

No hot cross buns.

No chocolate bunnies.

No ham.

No lamb. 

Nothing.

Just nada.

Zilch and zip.

And then we get a little stressed out and a tiny bit overwhelmed because we wonder how — how — we will resurrect this thing by Sunday.

We’re sure it’s not possible.

I mean, our expectations are just dead, man. Not to be dramatic, but we kind of tripped, and face-planted, and landed hard, and smashed our expectations all over the ground, and now they are DEAD-dead, and the skies darken.

It is BAD, friends. BAD NEWS. Rather hopeless. Just AWFUL.

We descend into Mama Expectations Hell.

……….

And I know you won’t believe me about this next part. That’s OK. I never believe me, either. What I’m about to tell us is, after all, unbelievable. 

But I have lived through Mama Expectations Hell, and here’s what I’ve discovered…

……….

We will rise again. 

SOMEHOW, unbelievably, we will rise again. 

BECAUSE WE HAVE MIRACLE POWERS, friends.

TRUE STORY.

We have miracle powers — all is not lost, after all — and WE WILL RISE from what we knew was certain death. WE WILL KEEP ON RISING, too, because this doesn’t apply just to the Easter Plan and the Eggs and the Baskets. 

No; we will keep rising on repeat. Over and over. Dying to Expectations. Dying to Ourselves. Dying to How We Thought This Life Would Be and WHO We Thought We’d Be in It. Descending into All Kinds of Hell. And Rising Again. 

You know why? 

Because we are a Resurrection People.

Because we believe in Unreasonable Hope.

Because we have learned what it is to Release Expectations and the Things That Tie Us to the Tomb. 

Because we have learned to look for the Things That Matter instead of the Shoulds and Ought Tos. 

We do something that matters — sometimes one thing — and we discover it’s enough. 

^^^^MIRACLE, I TELL YOU! ^^^^

So I have planned nothing for Easter, friends. Not one single thing. 

My kids are going to go to church on Sunday in — and I’m not kidding here — whatever they want to wear, which will undoubtedly include jeans with holes in the knees and shoes covered in duct tape. 

I will — almost certainly — boil some eggs over the next couple days, and we’ll dye them or we won’t, and Easter will come anyway.

We’ll dine on Sunday on… food. Whatever I find in the freezer and the cupboards that makes the least number kids say EW. 

We’ll hide Easter baskets for the kids to find, probably even with something in them. 

And we’ll talk about resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus, yes, and the resurrection of us, too, and we’ll celebrate the hell out of rising from the dead. 

That will be our One Thing That Matters. 

So, in case you, like me, are unprepared for Easter, know this: you are not alone. We can sit here together and wait for the dawn, which always comes after the dark. And we can celebrate the hell out of rising from the dead.

With love,

Signature 

 

 

**Sometimes I make Jesus feel sad. Sorry, Jesus. 

……….

Image credit “Part Of Eggshell Broken On White Floor” by Keerati via freedigitalimages.net

3 Wise Men and a Virgin Are Coming to My Church; You Should, Too

December 18, 2014 in Family by Beth Woolsey

I’m not saying my church is better than your church, I’m just saying that one pastor at my church (let’s call him “Nate”) recently found another pastor’s email (let’s call him “Paul”) left open and sent a message from Paul to his two adult sons disclosing Paul’s recent breast augmentation surgery.

Which Paul did not have.

Which is why that’s HILARIOUS. 

Gosh, I love my church.

We are weird weirdos who are weird.

And funny.

We are weird weirdos who are weird and funny and not afraid to play.

More churches should try that tack. The whole Be Your Weird Self approach. And Laugh. And Play. Someone should probably elect me President of Church, is what I’m saying. We’d send bizarre emails to each other’s family members. And tuna casserole would be BANNED FOREVER. And the punch would be full strength. And there’d be real half and half for the coffee. And we’d host weekly Beer and Bible Study; heavier on the beer or the Bible, depending on the week. And I’d award bonus points for every person willing to tell an embarrassing story out loud in front of the congregation; it’d be a Regular Sunday Feature like the Offering or Announcements or the Sermon or Prayer… except it would be Embarrassing Story Time and we’d have to provide good quality tissues for laughing ’til we cry, and maybe some inconspicuous absorbent pads on the pews for those of us who laugh ’til pee. And on sunny, warm Sundays, we’d ditch the plan and the building entirely and go lay flat on the lawn, and not care about grass stains or dew or children jumping over our heads, and we’d stare up at the sky and tell wild truths about being both lost and found at the same time, which is grace. 

In addition to being weird weirdos who are weird, though, we have some amazing musicians at my church. Like, professional musicians… recording artists… members of the Portland Symphonic Choir… blah-di-blah-blah blah… and, along with their completely talented musician friends (of whom I’m surprisingly not one), they’ve put together a series of Christmas Concerts which I’m telling you about for two specific reasons.

  1. 3WisemenandaVirginTheir group name is 3 Wise Men and a Virgin** which is, obviously, the VERY BEST name for a 6-person music group EVER. 
  2. 3 Wise Men and a Virgin** are playing in the Portland, Oregon area this weekend, including at my church on Sunday, and I’d love for you to join us for the concert and hang-out time afterwards.

 

**P.S. The group name is technically not 3 Wise Men and a Virgin. That name was proposed and discarded in favor of “Eclectic Christmas,” which may be more accurately descriptive but isn’t nearly as entertaining. Whatever. I’m still calling it 3 Wise Men and a Virgin, and you can, too.

P.P.S. In case you want more details, here’s the scoop: Eclectic Christmas 3 Wise Men and a Virgin is a Christmas concert for all ages, with music from jazz to folk to blues and everywhere in between. The group is comprised of Aaron Pruitt, Frank Verhoorn, Nate Macy, Nathanael Ankeny, MelissaThomas, and Nolan Staples. Desserts to follow the concert on Sunday evening. $10 suggested donation.

Friday, December 19, 7:00pm: West Hills Friends Church
7425 SW 52nd Ave, Portland, Oregon

Saturday, December 20, 7:00pm: Newberg Friends Church
307 S College St, Newberg, Oregon

Sunday, December 21, 7:00pm: North Valley Friends Church
4020 N College St, Newberg, Oregon

(CAUTION: They’re letting Woolseys attend that last one. You’ve been warned.)

P.P.P.S. All the best bands have riders attached to their contracts so their needs are met. Through secret sources, I obtained a copy of the Backstage Rider for 3 Wise Men and a Virgin. 

The following are the expectations of you as the host for Eclectic Christmas 3 Wise Men and a Virgin:
  1. You will provide cash in the following amounts for our merchandise table: 17 $1 bills, 14 $5, 2 $10, 3.5 $20, 7 $50, 32 $2 bills, and 7 quarters. This can be Monopoly money as the merch table is imaginary.
  2. We will sign autographs provided Nate has a minder since he can’t spell his own name.
  3. We do not require food, but there should be a veggie platter. The platter must not include carrots, broccoli, celery, snap peas, peppers, or cherry tomatoes. 
  4. In and Out Burger is our preferred catering institution. Nolan insists on pickles. Aaron will not eat anything that has been in a bag with any pickle products and consequently will not play due to emotional upheaval.
  5. Melissa requires the green room to literally be green and kept at 65.7 degrees.
  6. Frank prefers to be called Jim.
  7. Nathanael’s children often have serious communicable diseases. They will require oxygen tents but need to be in the front row. There are restraining orders against his parents seeing the kids, so they will need to sit behind the organ and have an usher blindfold them. Nate’s uncle has a violent dislike of Nolan’s mother so they will need to be monitored and seated at least 50 yards from each other.
  8. Our sound person, Joel, will only answer to the Spanish pronunciation of his name and is likely to charge anyone wearing red.
  9. All power outlets will need to be 220 volts with a provided 110 watt diffuser.
  10. We require spouses to be checked in with their names written on masking tape and placed on their backs. Spouses will only be released from the care of the meeting with an approved signature.

P.P.P.P.S. I can’t be held responsible for what I or my children will wear to the concert. I’ve got one who plans to wear her dragon wings and tail, one who’s back in love with his kilt which is now a mini-kilt since it’s 4 sizes too small, and I can’t guarantee I won’t have given up on real clothes and be back in my pajamas by 7pm on Sunday. Just saying – you get what you get, friends, and All Hail the Weird Weirdos Who Are Weird!

P.P.P.P.P.S. I hope to see you there. 

 

3WisemenandaVirgin

 

 

 
 

Happy Classy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Let’s say, hypothetically, your cousins showed up at your house last Thanksgiving in a massive RV and made references all weekend to the Griswolds and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

GriswoldRV“That there’s an RV, Clark.”
“Yeah, Eddie. It looks so nice parked in front of the house.”
“Sure does, but don’t you go fallin’ in love with it, now,
’cause we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.”

And then let’s say you have the opportunity to borrow an airporter — you know, those enormous, bulky, sexy shuttle buses? woot woo! — to make the 6-hour drive to see said cousins this year which means you can totally, completely WIN the Classy Cousins Contest. For, like, ALL TIME.

ClassyThanksgiving2

I think you’re pretty much obligated to do it, right?

ClassyThanksgiving1

RIGHT.

And to spend the 6 hours on the road making important announcements over the intercom? 

ClassyThanksgiving5

Yep. That’s what I thought, too. But I just thought I’d check.

In short, 

Happy Classy Thanksgiving
from our family to yours

ClassyThanksgiving3

Wishing you all a fabulous time.

xoxo,
Signature

 

 

P.S. We may or may not have used the wheelchair straps in the back to secure the keg of home brew we brought. Just saying – we TOTALLY win.

………

Griswold RV photo credit Old Navy

 

Holiday Shopping Guide for All Ages

November 6, 2014 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

I know some of you already have ALL your holiday shopping done, and if that statement applies to you, you just SHUSH. I mean, good job. But SHUSH.

This is for the rest of us. The rest of us who TRY to get our shopping done ahead of time and, well, fail. The rest of us who pick up a thing here or a thing there. The rest of us who realize on December 20th or 21st or 23rd we never did manage to do all the Christmas shopping we’d intended. The meticulous shopping. The organized shopping. The shop-local shopping. The shop-small-businesses shopping. The thinking-about-what’s-perfect-for-everyone-on-my-list shopping. And, most importantly, the cheap-GET-THE-BEST-DEALS shoppingbecause five kids is a lot of kids all the time, but five kids at Christmas? Sheesh.

Now, it’s only November, so it’s WAY TOO EARLY for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa shopping for the Rest of Us, but I AM ON THE BALL this year, friends. I am FIRED UP. Because I realized I tanked on shopping well last Christmas, when it caught me completely off guard that there were only 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and the birth of Baby Jesus. I was woefully unprepared. I spent more money than I wanted to spend. I wasn’t as mindful about gifts as I wanted to be. I stressed myself out far more than necessary. And I was, quite honestly, embarrassed at how much of my last-minute Christmas attention was on oh my gosh, what am I going to BUY and not so much on my family or my faith.

This year will be different.

Here’s my general problem, though: I am the WORST shopper in the history of shopping, and I have no idea what I’m doing because I just HATE it. I want – rather desperately – for someone to just tell me what to buy or what to assemble or what to do and be done.

So I turned to you and asked for help, and, as always, you were there for me.

As a result, even though it’s only early November, here is the OFFICIAL 

hand5 Kids Is A Lot Of Kids Holiday Shopping Guide for All Ages
Exactly the Same as Oprah’s Favorite Things!™*
*except totally different and probably cheaper

Before you get started, please note:

  1. This list is divided into age categories as much as possible. Some things are listed for all ages; some for specific age ranges.
  2. Nothing is divided by gender because I don’t see what our boy and girl parts have to do with building or nurturing or drawing or reading. I’m sure there are lots of Boy Gift Lists and Girl Gift Lists on the internets. This just isn’t one of them.
  3. I really (really, really) care about cost. In case you do, too, I’ve added a cost key to as many items as possible. 

Key:
$ = $0-10
$$ = $11-20
$$$ = $21-30
$$$$ = $31-40
$$$$$ = $41 and Up

OK, ready?

Here we go. 

…….

Activities and Experiences for All Ages, $$$-$$$$$: In recent years, as our volume of STUFF has increased and, subsequently, become increasingly challenging to contain, gifts of experiences have been my very favorite things for my family, both to give and to receive. Consider these fun ideas.

  1. TicketsZoo Passes
  2. Aquarium Passes
  3. Movie Tickets
  4. Play Tickets
  5. Pool Passes
  6. Museum Membership
  7. Amusement or Water Park Tickets
  8. A Night Away — my kids ADORE a night in a hotel with a swimming pool!
  9. Restaurant Gift Certificates – Meghan writes, “One year my kids got Dominos gift certificates so they could buy pizza and drinks for themselves. They LOVED being in control of their dinner choice and overruling what I wanted them to eat. And I didn’t have to cook – WIN/WIN!” 

…….

Active Play Kits for Kids Ages 3-10, $ – $$: Many of you suggested these build-your-own kits. I have to say, my kids would adore this kind of thing and it’s the kind of gift you can both personalize and make for very little money. I’m in!

  1. FlashlightBuild-a-Fort Kit, ages 3-10 – I LOVE this idea, and I plan to make some for my nieces and nephews this year. The idea comes from Armommy, and it’s very simple. Assemble flat sheets, a battery-operated lantern or flashlight, clothespins, and perhaps a book or two. Consider sewing ribbon ties on the corners of the sheets. Put all items inside a pillowcase. Voila! Instant fort-building supplies without tearing apart the linen closet or the beds. Love, love, love!
  2. Building Kit, ages 6-10: Debbie writes, “Assemble a moving box of scrap lumber salvaged from a job site (with permission of course), a hammer, a box of nails, a small hand saw [if you’re brave], measuring tape, work gloves, and eye protection glasses.” Someone added… and bandaids. 😉 Agreed!
  3. Jeans with Sewing UtensilsSewing Kit, ages 6-10: Melanie writes, “I had my own sewing box full of brightly coloured threads, needles and buttons. I still remember the shirt that I sewed about 50 buttons onto that my Grandfather actually wore to church one Father’s Day.” 
  4. Duct Tape Kit, ages 3-10: We gave our 4 youngest kids duct tape for Christmas last year. (Told you I like CHEAP.) And so did their grandparents. You’d think that would be duct tape overload, but NOPE; they had a wonderful time making things out of multi-colored tape and cardboard boxes. The tape is long gone, but they’ve been spending their own money to replenish the duct tape supply. Guess what they’re getting again this year??
  5. Career Kits, ages 3-10: Imagine:Play from McMinnville, Oregon writes, “Make a post office kit in a plastic box with real envelopes, tape, a stapler and stickers — all those things parents won’t let them play with and waste! Or a play restaurant kit with aprons, table cover, menus, personalized signs and order pads from a bulk grocery store like Cash N Carry.” The options for career kits are as endless as your imagination. I’d love to see a Safari Kit or a Pilot Kit or a Teacher Kit. 

…….

Cool Toys for Little Kids, ages 3-8, $$-$$$$$: Like I said above, we have veered far from traditional toy buying in recent years, simply because TOO MUCH STUFF. But there’s still something special about opening that One Cool Toy on Christmas morning. Here are some reader favorites:

  1. PuttyBattat Take Apart Toys, ages 3-6
  2. Magformers Building Sets, ages 3-5
  3. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, ages 3 and Up
  4. Music Maker Zither, ages 6 and Up – “Anyone can play–just slide a songsheet under the strings and follow the notes in connect-the-dots fashion.” 
  5. Kiwi Crate, ages 4-8 – Boxes that come once or every month with craft and science projects. Everything you need is included. You can use Stephanie’s referral link here to get $10 off your order.

…….

Cool Things for Bigger Kids, ages 8-16, $$$-$$$$$

  1. Make Your Own CandyTinkerCrate from Mindware, ages 8 and Up – make candy, learn chemistry. What’s not to love?
  2. Tinker Crate, ages 9-14 – Like Kiwi Crate above, these are boxes that come once or every month. Unlike Kiwi Crate, these are designed for the 9-14 year old set interested in science, techology and engineering.
  3. Doodle Crateages 9-16 – Like Kiwi Crate and Tinker Crate, except these boxes are for the 9-16 year old artist and crafter.

…….

Stuff to Read for Kids of All Ages

  1. Magazine Subscriptions
    • My kids love Zoobooks for ages 6-12 (there’s also Zookies for ages 0-3 and Zootles for ages 3-6).
    • Cindy writes, “The  folks who do Cricket have cool kids magazines for all levels, focusing in science, Crickethistory or literature.” You can find all the Cricket magazine options, from age 1-14, here.
    • Cindy also says, “If you don’t mind the gross and irreverent factor, MAD magazine. My 12 year old boy voluntarily gives up computer time to read it when it arrives. Laughs and laughs and laughs.” 
    • For the geek in your life, I highly (highly) recommend Wired magazine. Truly an excellent publication.
    • And, for the cook you love, Cooking Light has a new editor, new philosophy and new look. This is one of my personal favorites… although I tend to add extra butter and cheese.
  2. Gift Certificate to a Local Bookstore: this is a consistent favorite for my kids. They’re all ecstatic when they get Chapters gift certificates, although, granted, my 16 year old uses hers in their coffee shop. 🙂
  3. And, of course, BOOKS. For specific book suggestions, check out the 5 books I hope my kids will read and then scroll through the AWESOME comments you left with myriad more ideas. 

…….

For Tweens and Teens: Depending on how you look at it, tweens and teens can either be much easier or much harder to buy gifts for than little ones. While it’s not nearly as fun to wrap a gift card (although I try with big boxes!) as it is a truck or a doll or a game, it is fun to watch my tweens’ and teens’ eyes light up when they realize they get the freedom to spend a little money however they choose. Here are some of our kids’ favorite, go-to gift cards and a couple actual physical items to consider.

  1. iTunes Gift Cards
  2. Coffee Gift Cards
  3. Cash for Sports or Other Classes: Nikki writes, “I’ve decided on envelopes of money saying ‘this chairis for soccer’ attached to a soccer ball and ‘this is for gymnastics’ attached to a leotard since it always seems that during the year sign-ups happen when we are running short. This year, I can say, ‘Go get your Christmas envelope!'” 
  4. Hanging Rope Swing Chair – My friend Erinn put this is her 9-year-old daughter’s room. It was a HUGE hit. Now her other daughter wants one, too. I’m kind of afraid to let my kids see this.
  5. Gamewright Card Games – Loot, Ratatatcat, and Zeus on the Loose are favorites
  6. Boot Cuffs – I’m buying at least one set of boot cuffs for my oldest daughter this year. These, by Hooked by Hanna, are adorable.

…….

For Grown-Ups

  1. TeaHouseDesignsConsider something handcrafted like these cutting or cheese boards from Swamp Otter Designs, these Tree of Life necklaces from JW Arts and Crafts, or my latest find, from an Oregon Coast art gallery, these fun earrings from Tea House Designs (pictured right), $$-$$$$.
  2. If you’re in Oregon or Washington, check out Black Tie Tours‘ Holiday Wine Tour Special – an afternoon (3 hr) wine tour for $150. I can personally recommend Black Tie Tours – they are AWESOME. You can be a TOTAL wine idiot and they will help you. They also cater to people who actually know wine, too.
  3. Oregon White Truffle Oil, $$-$$$$ – Holy cow! Drizzle some on pasta, grate some KonduriKoffeeParmesan, and this stuff is HEAVEN. I keep some in my cupboard all the time. 
  4. Direct Trade Coffee at Konduri Koffee, $$-$$$
  5. An Unforgettable Experience, $$$$$. Susan writes, “My son is now 26 and really hard to buy for. He was in the Army for 5 years and is now back living at home. He is in school getting his degree. He always tells me, ‘I don’t want or need anything.’ Last year I went on Groupon & got him Sky Diving….. I was elevated to Super Star status!”

…….

Other Cool Places to Shop Online for All Ages

  1. Think GeekThinkGeek – This is my go-to site for when I need a gift for Greg. TOTALLY geeky, awesome merchandise. I usually go for a shirt like Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock
  2. If you like Think Geek, also check out Celtic Dragonfly at Etsy for some awesome felt character dolls from Doctor Who, Dr. Horrible, Firefly, The Walking Dead and more, and September Embroidery for embroidery with a geeky/nerdy twist.
  3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store
  4. Mindware

…….

You can find more ideas on the original post over here at the 5 Kids Facebook page.

And we need your ideas, too! If you have other great options (including your own businesses), please share them in the comments section.

……….

“Tickets Sign” image credit artur84 via freedigitalimages.net.
“Flashlight” image credit Gualberto107 via freedigitalimages.net.
“Jeans With Sewing Utensils” image credit Mister GC via freedigitalimages.net.
“Empty White Wall with Gift Box” image credit Master isolated images via freedigitalimages.net.

All other images are not mine; they belong to the stores or businesses listed in this post, and I’m assuming people are OK with me using them to promote their work. Here’s hoping.
P.S. I was not compensated for the promotion of any of these products/services. I just thought you might like some ideas.